However, it wasn't always that way, and in the early days there would always be a journalist or two in attendance. For researchers, their reports give a valuable insight to football politics in the Victorian era. And sometimes a gem can be found, such as this delightful spat in November 1898 which was reported verbatim in the Dundee Courier and is given here in full. The chairman was SFA President JD McLean of Ayr Parkhouse, his opponent was Alex Kirkwood of Airdrieonians, who happened to live in Dykehead.
TREATMENT OF REFEREES
A letter was read from Mr Watson, who was referee in the Federation match, Cameronians v Dykehead at Dykehead. He had to order off the field Steven, of the home club, for rough play. He also reported McLaren, of Dykehead, for using bad language to the visiting linesman, Mr Ramsay. Mr Watson also said that at the end of the game, which was finished twenty minutes before the time owing to darkness, he was invited into the pavilion, and struck by a Dykehead committee man. He was glad to get out, so threatening was the man in question.
After a discussion, which lasted an hour, it was agreed to suspend both players for one month, and ask the Dykehead to give an explanation of the assault on the referee. This led to a 'scene' with Mr Kirkwood, of Dykehead.
The Chairman was on his feet, speaking when Mr Kirkwood (interrupting) said - I wish to say---
The Chairman - Sit down, Mr Kirkwood.
Mr Kirkwood - I defy you to keep me from speaking.
The Chairman - I shall hear you after I'm done.
Mr Kirkwood - I shall speak of what I like, and when I like. (Cries of 'Chair'). I never heard a chairman give such an extraordinary judgement. To ask a club to come and produce evidence against itself was absurd. I never heard a chairman put forward such a proposition, and I hope I never will. (Cries of 'Chair').
The Chairman - We must have no more insolence. Sit down, sir.
Mr Kirkwood - You won't put me down. ('Chair')
The Chairman - I will see you afterwards.
Mr Hood (Beith) - It is foolish for any club to be asked to incriminate itself.
Mr McLaughlin (Celtic) - It is clear as day from the evidence on hand that the referee has been assaulted, and the Dykehead is trying to shield the man who did it.
Mr McCulloch (Dundee) - It is not a hundred years since a club was ordered to produce its own books to enable others to prove their case, but then it was a northern club.
Upon a vote, the amendment received only 8 votes.
Ah, they don't behave like that any more. Or do they?
Postscript: in 1900, less than two years later, Alex Kirkwood was elected President of the Scottish Football Association.